This map covers two of the northernmost basins on Kassidor and lots of the polar wastelands around them. The map is nearly 6000 miles wide and 4000 miles high. The north pole is 500 miles off the top of the map above the 'r' in '... polar deep'. Most of the land is tundra and polar prairie. The region is a land of continental plates riding over each other with the Silenius Plate riding over the Yondure plate which is riding over the Gligzath Plate which is over the polar plate. The base of the icecap is seven miles below sea level. The north edge of the East Goblin Waste is four miles above.
The areas painted black are above air. Actually many of Earth and Centorin and even some of Kassidor can breath above that altitude, that is the altitude where the heat of noon or the cold of dark become too dangerous for all but the most technical expeditions. Much of the East Goblin Waste is rockwort and ribbonleaf plain like the Great Goblin Plains. The northern edge is mountainous, but those mountains are erosion working into the leading edge of the Gligzath plate. The West Goblin Waste is dryer, a gravel plain with a few sap nubs and tussocks.
The Roiguul waste is almost all jumbled naked rock. The boundary between rock and ice shifts with the centuries and balloon flights over it are done every three to thirteen centuries. There have been expeditions that have gotten in a few hundred miles from the south side and they report an area like the Forbidden Plains only worse until you reach the jagged ice-encrusted peaks.
The harshest climate is on the Nullabar, Great Goblin and Forbidden plains. Most of the Forbidden plains is below freezing the entire winter, and can drop to -70F (-57C) during the dark. In the noon of summer it can get to 100F (38C) but will go below freezing every dark.
The tundra is miles deeper in the atmosphere. It is a land of dim light and raw, but not freezing cold. Most of the polar deep never gets below freezing, but never gets above 60F (16C). There is ample water from the melting edge of the icecap. The land is flat because this has been the destination of sediment for a billion years. Most of the tundra is oozing mud that squeezes back and forth with the seasons. It teems with life, mud worms, plankton, any bugs that can fly and quite a few that can't. Lonoid leaves can get to an acre in size.
It is an environment that is almost impossible for humans to penetrate. The ground is too thin to walk on but a little too thick to swim thru. Some mud worms are large enough to take a human as prey. It goes on for distances that are incomprehensible. The area has been explored from the air. It is possible to engineer a floater that can operate in these temperatures, but even from miles in the air, the tundra disappears to the horizon on all sides. The vegetation really is a purplish grey color most of the time.
The face of the icecap itself is impressive. Ice sits at its angle of repose (which isn't very steep) until it is above human access. There is a very open moraine within a few miles of the ice. Rivers burst forth from under the ice at different times and places and gush cubic miles of water, re-arranging the muds for years. Then that pocket will stop and water will spring up somewhere else. In addition, the face of the ice is constantly carved by hundreds of waterfalls every mile. Thousands of fur-foot dactyls perch on the ice-face and wait for movement in the pools.
The polar plains are also a land of raw, but not freezing cold. There is plenty of animal life and lots of thick fur. There have been nomadic tribes hunting them since prehistoric times. Near the tundra or a brook, there is water and because there is no frost, it is just about possible to coax onions to survive. There are still many nomads roaming the far north, in spite of the wooly theiropsoids that stalk these plains. Their palisades are no more permanent than the rivers that flow from the bergs that fall from the face of the ice.
Among these arctic wonders are two of the smallest of Kassidor's basins, with the Tthmuurng being the smallest in population. Dzintiss is densely populated, and most of it's people live on an area not much larger than California or Japan. The Tthmuurng basin is the most isolated in human space and that is how their god incarnate wants it.
This is known as 'The Goblin Basin' because they do make up a large part of the population. It is quite cold, but it is deep and the weekly temperature variation is not as great as most of the planet. Goblins have a rather negative connotation among the Elves, but these are actually a separate people from the ones of Elven legend and in the modern age there is really no good reason for the prejudice to continue.
This basin is another polar deep. It should be a northern representation of Borlunth, but it is not quite as deep in the atmosphere and subject to polar air masses in the winter making the climate a lot colder than Borlunth.
In the southern part of the basin, onions can be grown with some difficulty. There is almost no frost, but the temperature rarely gets above 60F (16C) so nothing grows fast. But because onions can be grown, there was a population during prehistoric times. The current ethnic type seems to date from prehistoric times.
The upper basin has a flat floor which is fertile and has adequate water. The soil is a bit poor because of high salt content, but that is gradually improving since a series of salt lakes were created along the western edge of the basin. The remainder of the basin is quite rugged and at a higher elevation. Much of it is bitterly cold during winter darks and has no permanent habitation. It is scenic with open shaftwood forests and rugged little peaks.
The lower basin is closer to the pole, but even deeper. It is narrow with relatively steep sides. For the first few hundred miles there is enough rain for some forests on the hills, but that falls off and the hills are dry and full of scamps and coriax.
Where there is adequate water, some crops can be grown in that area, and the land along the Great Salt River has dense permanent habitation until just over 2000 miles from the pole. Because of the depth, the face of the icecap is only 1200 miles from the pole.
It should be noted that there are actually three ethnic groups known as Goblins. The Dzintiss basin has the oldest of the three, and they originated here deep in prehistory. Those that inhabit parts of the Old Midlands, Old Lands, Kyeb and Korst basins are a different people entirely who originated up to ten thousand years later in the Old Midlands. Both those types originated from Yondurian peoples. Those found in the southern hemisphere in parts of the Zil, Trenst and Lumpral basin look similar but lack the pointed ears. Genetically it is possible to tell that they are offshoots of the Megnor people.
There was agriculture in the basin from earliest times, and the population was high in prehistoric times. The region entered history as early as 6000bc when explorers from the Yondure basin reached the area. They were not warmly received, but as their level of technology was a couple thousand years ahead of the natives, the basin did eventually fall under domination by the great empire of the time known as 'The Realm'.
There was never any intermarriage between the two cultures. The Yondurians were quite caste conscious at the time and looked down on the Goblins as inferior sub-humans. Much of the population was reduced to slavery and families were disrupted.
The Yondurians were driven from the basin soon after 5000bc by fighters following Bzt-pflpt, who became the first emperor of the basin. Though the Goblins had been kept as little more than chattel, they learned most of Yondurian science and the mountains of the west were rich enough in iron to equip his troops with the latest in weaponry.
The Yondurians were never able to re-establish domination of the basin. In fact they were never able to even pass thru it from 5000bc on. Thru the golden age of The Realm, the Goblin emperor sat on the throne in Dzintiss. That city was rather dirty and smelly at the time, compared to Yondure, but nearly as large, taking a day to walk thru the muddy streets from the fields to the emperor's court.
The empire fell almost without a fight to the forces if Illewe. While the craftsmen of Dzintiss were strong and those of Yondure were great artisans, those of the Elves used science and came with air power and telecommunications.
Unlike the Yondurians, the Elves treated the people of Dzintiss with respect, offered education, sanitation and most of the conveniences of Earth's 19th and 20th centuries. Illewe left the existing political organizations in place whenever possible and the emperor of the time was wise enough to accept rule of his entire empire as a state in the larger empire.
Dzintiss became an industrial powerhouse during the Energy Age. Some of the largest coal deposits on the planet were found in the western mountains during the middle of the Energy Age. At that time Yondure was still trying to counter the culture of the Elves and Dzintiss became a much larger and more modern city than Yondure.
The pall of The Fall was light this far north, the region was never dependent on tallgrains, so The Fall hit more lightly here than lands to the south. Indeed, until the time of the Wars of Magic, Dzintiss remained the leading city of industry on the planet and manufactured many of the millions of hand-weapons that were used in that war.
By that time the coal and iron deposits were exhausted even here. Most of the Troubled Times was a gradual decline. The biggest events of those times were when the emperor was overthrown. There were shifting numbers and names of independent states along the Salt River and in the hills. Various emperors amused themselves trying to annex them. Various emperors were more or less enthusiastic about the idea of slavery for the serfs. More and more it was less.
A small group had actually learned the scientific method and a small university had been founded. Different emperors were more or less hospitable to it, but none actually destroyed it. Many of the greatest scholars were put to death, but there were enough left that some of the work carried on.
During the Troubled Times new empires arose in the Yondure Basin, one in the Illiyang. While the remainder of the Yondure basin worried about the advance of Bordzvek, the Illiyang re-opened commerce with Dzintiss, and the two states became each other's largest trading partner in less than an Earth century.
When eternal youth became available there was quite a bit of trouble in the basin. The emperor and his staff and cronies tried to reserve it for themselves. They actually did for many generations. Like in the Lumpral basin, it was the sterility plague that sparked the flames. In the Lumpral basin there were many little uprisings, in this basin there was one big one. The emperor was overthrown for the last time, even though his position had relatively little power by then. So much was destroyed that the medications were less available than they were before the revolution. Because the population is so totally promiscuous, sterility reached just about everyone.
There were many years where it was a real problem to take care of all the old and childless. Millions died before their time, when they could no longer grow their food, they died. Miles of farmland stood abandoned. The price of property went to zero. There were still many more aged than young when eternal youth became contagious. When that happened, groups from the cities began a campaign to save those who were too aged already to be helped by the contagion because it was sexually transmitted.
The population had gone down to as little as a hundred million by the time it stabilized. So many had either died or moved from Dzintiss that Eadia was larger until the Instinct. In most basins it took all of the forties for Common Tongue (Kassidorian) to replace the mix of languages in use in any area. Not here. It seemed they were actually glad to give up their old language, which was just about vowel free, and within a generation of its introduction, nearly everyone was speaking Common Tongue.
Most people hear this is the Goblin basin and think of big bellies, rigid social systems, important men with more authority than the Kassidorian norm and lack of cultural opportunities. Indeed that is true in high concentrations of the Goblins who trace their roots to the Old Midlands. It was true of the Dzintiss basin in antiquity. The reality today is somewhat different.
These Goblins look only casually like those from Old Midlands. They have the very long pointed ears and tiny pointed noses. They are generally short, few are five feet, many only four. They have the smallest babies of any ethnic type, averaging less than three pounds. They have much lighter skins than those from the Old Midlands, and lighter hair to go with it, some could even be called blond, though that is rare, and usually purchased. Most have curly hair, sometimes it's rather thin, but today most have enough affluence to do something about that. Most of them have large amber eyes. The men have larger heads and often gaps between their teeth. Men often wear their hair short and they are beardless. Women keep long hair and unlike other Goblin types, usually take good care of it. The males are much more heavily muscled than the Goblins of Old Midlands and have much smaller bellies, the women have much cuter figures. There is the most dimorphism of any Yondurian-derived ethnic group.
They live in small family groups of three to fifteen. Usually couples and siblings. In modern times the culture accepts female ownership of property so the owners may be sisters and mother/daughter/granddaughter or some combination. Quite often groups of women jointly owning a piece of property are called witches. When males own the property, which is still the usual case, it is usually the property of one man, even if he has relatives and spouse(s) living with him. In all cases, the names of the owners are carved in prominent places around or on the front door.
The vast majority of the population today lives on a smallhold on the basin floor. Their home is usually grown from gourdwood. They have a few big enough to carve out a second floor, but usually they'll have a small stand of them and cut thru doors where they meet. Their decor is colorful, as if to counteract the greyness of the sky above them. Half of them seem to have a hobby of carving the most intricate detail into the trim of their doorways and windows and they decorate it with vibrant, often blended colors. To us it might look like a giant patch of carved pumpkins that had sprouted some particularly colorful fungi from a distance, but they are quite happy with them. They are usually comfortable enough, except for the lack of heat.
They have colorful clothing also, like they are wearing well fitted oriental carpets. They need to because they do not have heat, other than some small cook-fires. They do have plumbing, it is something they refused to give up once Illewe brought it, and almost everyone in the basin now has a set up that will provide gas for the cook fire. They have plain dipped candles for lighting, but they are brightly colored, enough to tint the flame.
There are few trees on the basin floor today, but it is too deep to worry about too much sun. Villages can be seen for miles, if you sit on the average roof and look around you might count to a hundred if you see far enough into the distance. There is no horizon so you think you can see pretty far, but you really can't see more than 30 to 50 miles thru air this thick.
In the villages there will be a public house. They really aren't businesses as we know them. People consider them to be property of the village. There are businesses operating in them, kegmen and cooks, a few entertainers. They don't all have screens, but usually there is a data terminal somewhere in the building, usually behind the rest rooms.
You'll be the center of attention when you enter one of these public houses because you're head and shoulders above anyone else in the room. They'll think you're from Korst and want to hear all about it. You've probably passed thru it on the way here and can speak intelligently on the subject. Don't get into the Kassikan, the stargate and Centorin. If they believe you, you won't be able to relate to them any more. Korst is exotic enough.
You'll have more than enough companionship. Once modern times began (but not before), the most casual sex on the planet is here. Hardly anyone bothers to find a room, they converse with people going by or sitting near them while hard at it. They may be glad to have you watch and if you do, they may ask if you'd like to be next or even get in on it. If you don't want to do it right there on the bench at the public house, your selection may be somewhat limited in this basin. Many are also very good at opening pants, clouts, etc without the guy noticing. If you go home with someone, she probably shares the house with one or more men who may want to watch and/or participate. Most of the women are actually cute, but many are so small that you may not be able to connect. She'll know before she tries it.
The basin is easy to reach and the trip is civilized all the way. It will take you two to four local years. Travel in the region may be a little difficult. There are few scheduled coaches, but you will probably be able to hire one. There are thousands of canals, but they are almost all for irrigation. There is one large commerce canal from Dzintiss to Eadia, but to sail it you may need to go as crew. You may need to camp because few of the public houses outside the cities have rooms. It will almost certainly rain during the dark and the temperature may get close to freezing. You can probably find someone to put you up in their house, but at least those of opposite sex may want sexual favors to do so.
Even though these Goblins are only distantly related to those of the Ttharmine basins, the cuisine is often similar. They love gruel and make it in many different ways, easily encompassing what we of Centorin call oatmeal, creamed wheat or grits. They usually add some fruit to it, and they make it heartier than you find in the North of Korst. In addition, these people love a nice juicy roast, and the plains which surround the basin have plenty of wooly thongga, various mrangs, theiropsoids and giant lek. Most of the meat is brined, but some raise fresh lenta on the basin floor.
The notorious Goblin thirst is not quite as strong among this branch of the family, but they brew and consume large quantities of moss mead, and as much yaag as they can get to grow. Larorlie grows slowly here because of the weak sunlight and low temperatures, so most yaag is serviceable, little is outstanding.
The worst thing about Dzintiss is actually the climate. It never gets as cold as the Yakhan, Yclel-vi or even Bordzvek does during Dawnsleep, but it never gets really warm either, and that turns out to be more of a problem. It has never reached 68F (20C) in recorded history. Almost every dark brings a raw soaking drizzle, some bring pounding rain or hail.
The residents make the best of it, even without heat. The city is densely populated enough to use body heat. The city is a haphazard pile of different building types, gourdwood, shaftwood, stone, crystal, plank, brick. The style is pretty uniform, lots of disorder and color, lack of symmetry seems to be important.
The city is along the banks of the Salt River, thirteen avenues follow the river at different distances and levels. They are each wide with lanes for cargo, streetcars and pedestrians. They wind and twist and sometimes cross each other. The largest roads on Kassidor radiate into the country across the river. The Seven Bridges are too low for most masts so cargo is towed thru the city. The oldest of those bridges that is still in use was built in 3750bc, the newest in 1171bc. At that time there were seven cities.
The cities of Klognuk and Pf-Beezl are still not connected into one megalopolis with Dzintiss, there are miles of farmland between. In the time the bridges were built, those cities were distant retreats in the hills. The old city, from the Energy Age, is near the third bridge, the only bridge for 2000 Earth years. Essentially all the ruins are in this one area. Most of it is preserved, the university is still in use and has laid claim to the remainder of the old city.
The height of culture in the city are places that put on a series of two or three person comedy skits. Any cinema made here is likely to be a series of comedy skits with an overall plot that only loosely binds them. Cinema from Yondure is more popular than local in many cases. There are music shows, but there is no distinctive 'Dzintiss sound' like Zhlindu or Yondure. If anything, more follow the sound of Korst. There is a muscleball league in the city, probably the third most watched on the planet.
In the city you'll find it much easier to find trysting rooms and women more likely to use one. They will buzz around you because of your height and exotic appearance. You'll have more companionship than you can use and you'll have to turn some away. They'll look so hurt it will break your heart. Some people have left because of it. But when you're wrapped up with someone in a thick quilt is the only time you're really warm around here.
This is the smallest, most remote and isolated basin on the planet. It is the one that participates the least in present day Kassidorin society. All other basins are at least possible to visit, though the Darceen Basin require extensive physiological modifications to stand the climate. In the Tthmuurng basin the passes into the basin are guarded and no one is permitted to enter.
The method for doing this is a trick called a spear wall. There are thousands of men with spears guarding the borders. They cannot thrust at you with them because of the Instinct, but they can stand in your path and point them at you so that you have to push onto them to get by. They will move into your path which ever way you go. It would look silly to us, but because neither side can actually hurt anyone, any attempt to get by initiates a dance that is pretty effective at stopping anyone coming thru. The fact that the Instinct does not protect the supplies or draft animals of anyone approaching makes it dangerous to try and proceed.
There are only two methods the outside world learns of what is happening in the Tthmuurng Basin; sending balloons over it with cameras and other instrumentation packages, and questioning the very few who ever escape.
The basin is one of the deepest on the planet, over six miles below sea level. Though the city is less than 3000 miles from the pole, it, and most of the basin, is just about frost free. Most of the year temperatures are a few degrees above freezing, heavy clothing must be worn except when doing hard work. Crops and diet are very limited since most crops need much warmer weather to grow vigorously.
During the winter the basin is very short of light. Only one day of three is light. During mid summer, there is only one sleep of darkness. We know from escapees that they use a calendar that has 'long days' in it that are a day plus a sleep in length so that the time that was once sleep is now wake. They occur every few weeks.
The largest percent of population in any great city migrates in and out of Tthmuurng during the long days. Two thirds of the city's population spends some portion of the year in the fields, and drags crops back on big-wheeled carts pulled by teams of six men.
The sunlight is very dim even in summer. The plants are usually a dark indigo color, they look black in the weak sunlight that reaches thru that much air. There are some shaftwood forests along the southwest rim of the basin, but the remainder is covered with life that looks foreign to the average Kassidorian.
We know almost nothing of the history of the basin. We know it was there during the Energy Age. There are records of an expedition attempting to make contact, they recorded that the natives of the basin would lose as many lives as they needed to to repel the invaders. The expedition gave it up partly in disgust and partly because it wasn't worth the bother.
The Kassikan sent a team to try and make contact, but after twenty five Earth years, they could not get the spearmen to exchange one word with them. That expedition only learned anything because one of the spearmen ran away to join them when the expedition finally gave up.
There have been seventeen other known escapees. Their stories are in good agreement. They tell of one of the harshest societies on record. Even with the Instinct, they are still ruled by social pressure and deprivation. The Instinct doesn't protect a person's belongings. There is an emperor, in some ways like a pharaoh, a god among mortals. The society has all levels of divinity with each step on the social ladder being more divine until the Tthmuurng, who is god himself in their religion.
The religion is a very harsh and unforgiving creed. All the rules are strict, the punishments severe. Indoctrination is very thorough. The church controls all information, all weapons, all minds. Everyone is taught to inform on each other. Even with all that, it would not have been enough to keep the power structure in place for so long except for a mutation that has been found in the escapees that makes them more obedient to authority. The mutation is too old to have been artificially induced by human science.
Because the contagious eternal youth is sexually transmitted, the people of Tthmuurng are still ephemeral, and they are the largest population of ephemerals on Kassidor. The level of technology has not significantly changed since the Energy Age expedition was repelled, and it is not the level that Egypt enjoyed in 2500bc. All the escapees believe the Tthmuurng is immortal and is the only immortal.
The people are the most extreme of the Fmak-based peoples. They are paper white with shiny black hair. They are very small, the spearmen are their biggest and strongest at a little over five feet. Most of the escapees have been barely over four. The women are much smaller yet, even smaller than the Megnor women called 'pixies.'
Some of the escapees believe that certain initiates in the church do have a form of writing. Only one sample has been recovered and it is similar to that used in Yondure around 5000bc. There is no literacy at all among the common people. Their language, Tundric, seems to have some relation to Lystic, which was the most important language in the Yondure basin before the Energy Age. There is no use of any other language in the basin but their own. There is no word for language in their language and the concept that there can be a different sound-to-meaning encoding is a difficult one for them to grasp.
The similarities to the Lbront-Nevn basin are striking, and many sociologists have investigated it. What they conclude is that it is a pattern common to the Fmak peoples. It is harshest in Tthmuurng, a little more moderate in Fmak and the Tduun, and very moderate among the Megnor, but even the Megnor had great chieftains who were all but divine. There is ongoing work to find just what the genes are that create this tendency. The fact that Lbront-Nevn is a Troll population would seem to make it odd, but the population of Lbront-Nevn has some genes that are normally found among the Fmak and not among the Trolls.
Naturally, we're not going to talk about sights to see and where you'll meet companions in this basin. Even to see the spearmen you have to cross 1500 miles of polar wasteland to get there from either side. Either way you'd have to winter over in the wilderness at least once each way. If it was logistically possible, someone would have mounted an expedition to force contact and modernization on them. Because of the suffering and ephemerality of the population, those at the Kassikan think it is morally acceptable to do, but even their resources are not adequate for the task.